THE CLASH, COMBAT ROCK + THE PEOPLE'S HALL (2022): Band on the stagger

 |   |  1 min read

THE CLASH, COMBAT ROCK + THE PEOPLE'S HALL (2022): Band on the stagger
Although there was a subsequent album – the awful Cut the Crap – Combat Rock in 1982 was the last Clash album anyone could take seriously.

Which isn't to say it's any good.

It arrived in a nondescript cover almost free of meaning, aside from the band members looking in different directions, and while the title resonated with their militant stance it could also have referred to the group pulling itself apart.

Guitarist/writer and co-founder Mick Jones had wanted a double album but – after their London Calling (a double) and Sandinista! (a triple) – the record company, and worse his bandmates, refused him.

Jones and singer/writer and guitarist Joe Strummer had been at loggerheads for some time about the band's direction. Heroin-addicted drummer Topper Headon was shoved out even before Combat Rock was released.

Combat Rock – with bassist Paul Simonon – was the final album of the classic line-up and, despite the tensions, stood as an uneven but economic Clash album which sprung two hits, Rock the Casbah and Jones' Should I Stay Or Should I Go which might have been about his off-on girlfriend Ellen Foley (who sang back-up on tuneless Car Jamming) or Jones' question about whether he was still wanted in the band.

He got his answer soon enough, 14 months later after a volatile American tour he was fired by Strummer, Simonon and Clash manager Bernie Rhodes.

On its 40thanniversary Combat Rock gets reissued with People's Hall, an extra disc of outtakes and rarities from the same period.

The best Combat tracks – Rock the Casbah, Should I Stay, Straight to Hell – show a band still capable of greatness but elsewhere there are lesser returns. Mostly because Strummer decided he was a better spoken-word barker-cum-orator than a singer.

He was wrong.

The opener Know Your Rights is a declamatory rant (“you have the right not to be killed”), the lo-range funk Red Angel Dragnet with spoken word passages by Paul Simonon lifted from Taxi Driver is little better and former Beat poet Allen Ginsberg reads some dire rhyming couplets on Ghetto Defendant which might have been better remaining as a reggae instrumental which underpins it.

The People's Hall tracks place context around Combat Rock but with the exception of their hip-hop influenced This is Radio Clash and the jazzy Fulham Connection little here is essential Clash: Futura 2000 features rap from the graffiti artist of that name who appeared on Combat's serviceable Overpowered by Funk (it can charitably described as “old school”), there are jams and retread reggae, and no one needs the four minute-plus audio-verite opener of people waiting outside a Clash concert.

Combat Rock found a dysfunctional band wading through punk, rock, hip-hop and reggae influences and the 24 track expanded reissue -- which could be whittled into a decent single album – invites no major reconsideration.

But it was better than the Crap that followed.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Absolute Elsewhere articles index

PAUL McCARTNEY SOLO CAREER PART 2, 1980-90: Adrift in the Eighties

PAUL McCARTNEY SOLO CAREER PART 2, 1980-90: Adrift in the Eighties

Paul McCartney closed the Seventies much as he had started it: with the low-key self-titled album McCartney II which deliberately tried to downplay expectation and evoke the charm of his debut solo... > Read more

SUEDE REISSUED AND RECONSIDERED (2011): England made me

SUEDE REISSUED AND RECONSIDERED (2011): England made me

At the going down of the sun we will remember them, those great Britpop bands who were The Next Big Thing – like Longpigs, the Seahorses, Mansun, the Supernaturals . . . All household... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BARGAIN BUY: Ike and Tina Turner; The Hits Collection

THE BARGAIN BUY: Ike and Tina Turner; The Hits Collection

After her autobiography I, Tina in 1996 in which Tina Turner documented the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband Ike for decades, few could look at him and think of his music. But --... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . TOMMY QUICKLY: The career that couldn't be created

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . TOMMY QUICKLY: The career that couldn't be created

At the end of '63 the fresh and freckle-faced 18-year old Tommy Quickly was standing at the door of his dreams: he'd been signed by Beatles manager Brian Epstein (who had changed his name from... > Read more